119 How the Past Shapes the Present: Five Ways in Which History Affects China’s Contemporary Foreign Relations Harry Harding University of Virginia The history of China’s foreign relations is an interesting and controver- sial topic in its own right, as the essays in this special issue so amply demonstrate. 1 But it is also central to an understanding of China’s con- temporary international relations. The history of China’s foreign rela- tions is not just a chronicle of the past, but also a set of facts and ideas and images that are alive in the minds of policy-makers and the public today, thereby shaping the present and future of China’s relationship with the rest of the world. History influences China’s contemporary foreign relations in five ways: it provides an agenda of unresolved problems; it shapes the im- ages that China has of other countries and that they, in turn, hold of China; it is a contentious issue in some of China’s bilateral relation- ships; it presents a set of broad narratives that provide the context for China’s contemporary international conduct; and it offers positive and negative examples of national strategy and foreign policy behavior. These five dimensions of history
Journal of American-East Asian Relations – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2009
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